09/17/09 – Obama on Missile Defense: Alarming and Dangerous

This op-ed was originally posted at National Review.

Obama on Missile Defense: Alarming and Dangerous

By Mitt Romney
September 17, 2009

It is with good reason that the American people are focused on the economy and domestic issues — we continue to lose jobs, amass record-breaking deficits, and the president is promoting a plan to add a trillion dollar health burden. But foreign-policy actions by the Obama administration deserve immediate attention.

President Obama has made a dangerous and alarming decision to shelve our missile-defense system in Europe. Facing the growing threat from Iran’s nuclear ambition, the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency has worked long and hard to secure a site for the system to thwart a potential strike against our European allies. Developing the missile shield could also have important implications for U.S. security. His decision is wrong in every way, despite his rationale:

* The administration says that our intelligence believes the threat from Iran is not as far advanced as it had originally estimated. First, our intelligence regarding Iran is far from reliable and certain. Our window into the country is cloudy, at best. Other foreign intelligence agencies have reached very different conclusions. And second, it makes no sense to try to time the construction, testing, and deployment of a defense system to the very hour when one might guess the nuclear threat will arrive. No one is that prescient. Using the most rosy scenario of Iran’s nuclear capabilities to schedule the establishment of our defense is dangerous in the extreme.

* The administration believes that by giving such a gesture of goodwill to the Russians, they will be more willing to give in to our request that they join in sanctions against Iran. Here, the president’s lack of negotiation experience may have come in to play. Yes, sometimes in a negotiation you give up something that is important to you, but you do that only when the other party has agreed to give you something you want even more. You don’t give before you get. But here it’s even worse than that: The president has taught Putin that when he blusters and threatens, America caves.

* The administration is also teaching our friends some very unfortunate lessons; the Eastern Europeans who have stood so valiantly with America and who took political heat for backing the missile-defense system have simply been brushed aside. They have to wonder why America is treating its foes better than it is treating its friends. It’s a question that also is surely being asked in Israel and Honduras.

* The administration’s discounting of Iran’s nuclear progress tells Israel that if it is to stop what its own intelligence may believe is an imminent threat, it may have to act alone — and precipitously.

Iran is not cooperating with the IAEA. It is rushing headlong towards nuclear capability — it may already have enough enriched uranium to build a bomb. And it may well have secured access to missile technology from other nations. North Korea is, of course, much further along. And Pakistan, a state threatened from within by jihadists, has extensive nuclear capabilities. In such an environment, it is alarming and dangerous for the president to walk away from our missile-defense commitments.

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